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May 10, 2014

Wenger backs female Clermont manager

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes Helena Costa can prosper at Clermont Foot after becoming the first woman to be appointed as coach of a professional football team in France.

The Portuguese will make footballing history after the French Ligue 2 side announced she will be the first female to coach a mens' team within the top two divisions of Europe's leading leagues next season.

Costa, 36, has been in charge of Iran's women's national team since 2012 but has agreed to succeed Regis Brouard at Clermont -- and the Gunners boss believes Costa can thrive despite her relative lack of experience.

Helena Costa had been in charge of the Iran women's team.
Helena Costa has been in charge of Iran's women's national team since 2012.

"If you are competent, you get the job anywhere," he told the club's official website. "I like it. There are men managing women, why should women not manage men?

"The only thing I was always a big defender of in my life is to defend competence. If you are competent, you get the job anywhere.

"Having looked at her experience, the only restrictions you could have is she has very little experience as a coach but maybe she has top qualities and will show that.

"It's good that girls have a chance to manage men, so why not?"

A statement of Clermont Foot's official website read: "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."

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

Clemont striker Remy Dugimont told L'Equipe that he and his teammates were surprised at the news, but are looking forward to a "unique experience."

"We were told the new coach was this lady," he said. "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."

Scottish Premier League champions Celtic congratulated Costa, who carried out scouting work in Portugal and Spain for the side between 2008 and 2011.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter also took to Twitter to congratulate Costa on her appointment.

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