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May 22, 2014

Costa wants to be judged on merit

Helena Costa delivered a stark reminder of how attitudes to women in sport have changed, calling for football fans to view her as a 'normal coach' after taking the helm at Clermont Foot.

Helena Costa says she does not expect any special treatment when she embarks on her first season in charge of Ligue 2 side Clermont Foot.

Wenger backs Costa appointment

The 36-year-old Portuguese is the first woman to take charge of a professional men's team in France and her appointment earlier this month has been met with a flood of media interest.

More than a hundred journalists from around the world were in attendance for her first official news conference on Thursday, where Costa outlined her expectations for what is certain to be a challenging campaign at a club that finished 14th in the French second tier last season.

"The impact of my appointment was huge, but I want people looking at me like a normal person and judge my work as if I were a man," said Costa, the first woman to coach in the top two tiers of any of the five major European leagues.

"It is a pleasure to take this position [but] like men, if I do not have results, I will be fired like any other coach. This is normal."

Clermont have struggled financially in recent seasons and, even amid the increased exposure generated by Costa's appointment, that is unlikely to change anytime soon.

"As always the budget takes a large share of responsibility for the results. But I'm here to win," she said. "Although Clermont Foot is not a rich club, ambitions will be great . My goal is to win for Clermont. I am motivated by the project."

Costa, who holds a UEFA A coaching licence and a masters degree in sports science, has extensive experience in the game, both in Europe and the Middle East.

She scouted for Celtic for several years and coached age-group sides at Benfica between 1997 and 2010. Portuguese side Cheleirense gave her a first taste of coaching a senior male side in the 2005-06 season, and she proved her worth by leading them to the Regional Lisbon League.

She then switched to women's football, taking over the Qatar national women's side between 2010 and 2012 before her most recent role with Iran.

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