7 May 2014 | Football

A man’s game or the people’s sport? At last football has a female manager and we can all progress.

When I began this most recent incarnation of my FOOTBALL=LIFE, LIFE= FOOTBALL blog last autumn, I told my publisher that my plan was to include all kinds of soccer news. I wasn’t going to just focus on the top leagues and international teams, I wanted to demonstrate just how football is like a fan (the Lady Windermere type), that opens out so wide, it can cover anything.

Although I covered subjects such as homophobia, depression (interestingly the one that got the most responses) and education, the saddest was November 25th’s in which I planned to talk about women being blocked from progressing in the sport. I started on the subject but got diverted into contrasting the football effects of domestic violence in Italy and the trolling of female sports writers in the UK.

At the time I promised to revisit women’s football and am delighted to be able to report that at last a male team in the developed world has appointed a female manager:

I am cutting and pasting their official announcement (Sorry Turn It In, I confess all) because even if the above link goes, the announcement stays:


Helena Costa entrainera le Clermont Foot 63 la saison prochaine.

Le Clermont Foot 63 a choisi son nouvel entraîneur en la personne de Helena Costa, portugaise de 36 ans.

Helena Costa est passée par la formation de Benfica, ainsi que par le commandement des équipes féminines de Odivelas, puis des sélections du Qatar et de l’Iran, en plus de sa collaboration avec le Celtic Football Club en tant que recruteur.

Cette nomination doit permettre au Clermont Foot 63 de rentrer dans une nouvelle ère, en s’appuyant sur un groupe de 17 joueurs actuellement sous contrat, auxquels s’ajouteront de jeunes joueurs issus du Club.

Olivier Chavanon, bénéficiant d’une grande expérience et d’une profonde connaissance du Club, sera amené à être plus présent dans le domaine sportif.

Une présentation aux médias et partenaires du Club sera organisée à Clermont-Ferrand à l’issue de cette saison 2013/2014.

click for the BBC report en anglais

I am sure that this appointment will be reviewed and scrutinised in great detail over the next few months. Some will voice support and others will nay-say and will come up with many spurious reasons why Ms Costa will fail. However well she fares (and for the record I really hope she’s a success) this is only the start. As time moves on more women will manage men as effectively on the pitch as they do in businesses, schools, farms and anywhere where people do what people do.

 The owners of the club must also be congratulated. I am sure they will announce this is a pragmatic decision based purely on her track record and skills, but the reality is they have made a brave move and no matter how well this first appointment goes, it shows that football is the people’s game. All people.