If at first you do not succeed... The French second division football club Clermont Foot 63 appointed another woman as manager Saturday days after being spurned by the Portuguese coach Helena Costa.
The club’s President Claude Michy – criticised for apparently misogynistic comments after Ms Costa walked out on her first day – announced that he had replaced her with the former France women’s team captain, Corinne Diacre.
Ms Diacre, 39, is the first French woman ever to obtain a full diploma as a professional football coach. She previously trained the French women’s club Sochaux and is the assistant manager of the France women’s team.
In a brief statement, Mr Michy said that Ms Diacre had signed a two year contract and would start work early next week.
Clermont Foot, a perennially struggling French second division club, caused headlines all around the world earlier this year when it appointed Ms Costa as the first woman ever to manage a fully professional men’s team. Last Tuesday, Ms Costa anniounced that she was leaving without meeting her players. She initially refused to explain why.
The club president Mr Michy told a press conference that Ms Costa had given “no rational explanation” for her departure.
“She’s a woman,” he said. “They are capable of leading us to believe in certain things and then…She simply said ‘I’m going’.”
“Was she scared? I don’t know.We couldn’t make her change her mind. She leaves with her secret intact. I am not the first man to be deserted by a woman.”
“It appears that she suddenly had a crisis of confidence but I have no idea what might have upset her.”
Ms Costa, 36, a former manager of the Iranian women’ team nicknamed “Mourinho in a skirt”, later disputed Mr Michy’s comments. She said she had realised that she had been hired just as a “face” and a publicity stunt and would have no authority to sign players.
Ms Costa said that she had asked the club’s technical director, |Olivier Chavanon, to keep her informed about the recruitment of players. He had ignored her emails over five days and then replied: “You're tiring me with your messages.”
Mr Chavanon “signed players without my knowledge for a team I was supposed to lead and be responsible for, when there were other financially viable possibilities,” she said. It became clear, she said, that she had been hired to be the “face of the club” to attract publicity but would have no real authority.