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Helena Costa becomes Europe's highest profile female football manager

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Helena Costa has become Europe's highest profile female football manager of a men's team, after being named head coach of Clermont Foot football club in France.

The 36-year-old coach was appointed by the second-tier club today and is the first woman to head up a French professional team.

"Clermont Foot 63 has chosen Helena Costa to be our new coach," read the club's statement.

"This appointment will allow Clermont Foot 63 to begin a new era, relying on a group of 17 players currently under contract, which will be added young players from the club."

Helena Costa previously coached the Iran women's football team

Costa previously coached for the Iran women's team, a position she took up in 2012. She spent three years scouting for Celtic in Portugal and Spain between 2008 and 2011.

She also also coached Benfica's male youth teams and the Qatar women's side and is expected to take up her position at Clermont Foot at the end of the season.

"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," a spokesperson for Celtic told the BBC.

Costa will become the first female coach of a French professional team at Clermont Foot

The news that a woman would be entering the coaching level of second league men's football was greeted with elation in France.

"Bravo Clermont Foot for understanding that giving a place to women is the future of professional football," Najat Belkacem, France's women's minister, tweeted.

Veronique Soulier, president of Clermont Foot's supporters' club, said: "The boys in the team can be difficult to manage. They can be quite sensitive, that is what the other coaches have told us. With a woman in charge, maybe they will be less demanding."

"I cannot wait to return next season to be a part of it," said Clermont Foot defender Anthony Lippini. "I'm really curious. It will be a unique experience to be the first professional football team to be managed by a woman France. It is good. It creates a buzz."

Before this, the highest-profile appointment of a woman as coach of a men's team in Europe was that of Carolina Morace, who took charge of Italian Serie C1 team Viterbese for two matches in 1999. Around the same time, France had Nelly Viennot as the first woman to be assistant referee in an elite match.

In Spain, Maria Jose Claramunt is the director of the national team, but it is more a marketing than a sporting position.

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