Helena Costa named Clermont boss

Ligue 2 side Clermont have announced Helena Costa will be their coach next season, making her the first woman to take charge of a professional football team in France.

Costa, 36, has been in charge of Iran's women's national team since 2012 but has now agreed to succeed Regis Brouard at Clermont, who are destined to finish in lower mid-table this season.

"This appointment allows Clermont Foot 63 to enter into a new era by counting on the squad of 17 players currently under contract, to which will be added young players who have come through the club's ranks," a statement on the club's official website read.

Portuguese-born, Costa has worked as head coach at the Benfica youth academy and with various women's teams in her homeland, where she won a number of national titles, as well as the Qatar women's national side.

Celtic sent their congratulations to Costa, who carried out scouting work in Portugal and Spain for the Scottish Premier League champions between 2008 and 2011.

A Celtic spokesperson said on the Scottish club's official website: "We would like to congratulate Helena sincerely on taking up this new role. She did an excellent job for us and we know she will give her new position the same high level of commitment and dedication which she gave to Celtic."

"We learned together this morning," Clemont striker Remy Dugimont told L'Equipe of when he and his teammates found out the news.

"We were told the new coach was this lady. It is a surprise, a big surprise, because a lot of names were circulated; all coaches who were more or less unemployed.

"It came out of nowhere and now we have to get to know. It is good, it will create a buzz and will be a unique experience."

Dugimont does not believe Costa's relative lack of experience in the men's game will be a problem, nor does he see issues arising with respect.

"I'm not macho. She has worked in the profession and all the boys know how it works," he added. "At first it will be a little weird but it will only last a few days. We don't not know how it will happen but if the president has chosen to bring her, we hope it will be okay and I think there are no problems."

Dugimont's view is shared by teammate Anthony Lippini.

"I spoke with the physio and we spoke about the first time a woman entered the army... A very macho environment," he said. "Now there are many women in the army and it may be the same in football. I cannot wait for next season to discover. I'm really curious."

Prior to Costa, Carolina Morace coached Italian Serie C1 side Viterbese for two games 15 years ago.

Costa won the Regional Lisbon League with male side Cheleirense in 2006 and she has a good track record in the women's game, having won two Portuguese titles with Sociedade Uniao 1 Dezembro and winning promotion with Odivelas.

The news was also welcomed by Najat Belkacem, France's Women's Minister, who said on Twitter: "Bravo Clermont Foot for understanding that giving a place to women is the future of professional football."

Clermont plan to announce more details of Costa's deal when she is presented at the end of the season.

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.