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Female football coach declines job at French club Clermont

Photo: AFP, Helena Costa walks next to Clermont Foot's president Claude Michy during her official presentation as new coach, on May 22, 2014

She made headlines when she was announced as the new head coach of French football side Clermont in May, but Portugal's Helena Costa has given up the job before it even began, the club said Monday.

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The 36-year-old from Portugal would have been the first woman to take charge of a men's professional team in a leading European nation, but according to Clermont president Claude Michy she has now “decided not to take up her commitments” at the club.

Michy did not say what Coasta’s reasons for rejecting the post were but described her decision as “sudden and surprising”.

“I deeply regret this situation,” he said.

Clermont are a modest club from a city where rugby dominates, and they came 14th in Ligue 2 – France’s second tier – last season, while playing to average crowds of less than 4,000.

When announcing her appointment last month, Michy had been forced to dismiss suggestions that his move for Costa, who has a UEFA A coaching licence and a Masters degree in sports science, was a publicity stunt and said that he had "chosen a coach first and foremost, not a woman".

"When you choose a coach there’s no guarantee it will succeed, be it a man or a woman,” said Michy at the time. “I'm a macho guy. That’s the first thing I told her.”

Costa was previously a youth coach at Lisbon giants Benfica before winning a regional league title with Portuguese amateur club Cheleirense.

She has also coached the women's teams of both Qatar and Iran, and was also a scout for Scottish giants Celtic.

Other female coaches to take charge of men’s teams have also experienced short reigns, though not quite as brief as Costa’s.

Carolina Morace, a former Italian international, took over Viterbese in Serie C in Italy in 1999 but, under intense scrutiny, lasted just two matches.

And in 2012 Nelfi Ibanez Guerra took over Hijos de Acosvinchos, a financially troubled Peruvian semi-professional team, but lasted just a few months.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

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