Female coach makes history in France
Corinne Diacre became the first woman to coach a men’s professional football team in a competitive match in France on Monday when her Clermont Foot 63 side lost 2-1 at Brest in the second division.
Diacre’s managerial stint got off to a perfect start when Souleymane Sawadogo finished off a counterattack in the ninth minute, prompting only a small smile from his coach in celebration. But the match changed in the second half when Bruno Grougi converted a penalty for Brest before Alexandre Alphonse scored the winner for the home side.
“It’s never nice to lose, that’s obvious,” Diacre said. “But Brest played well. We made a couple of mistakes for their goals. But we did good things too, which is a good sign for the future. You can’t ignore Clermont this season.”
Diacre urged her players on loudly from the touchline and Clermont almost equalised but were denied by the woodwork and a great save by the Brest goalkeeper, Alexis Thébaux.
“We didn’t know how to keep the ball today, that was one of our weaknesses,” Diacre said. “We didn’t use the ball well, we didn’t develop our game as we could have, as we should have. That’s what put us in danger. There are plenty of positive things. I have a young team and I’m happy with my players because they gave everything.”
The former defender celebrated her 40th birthday on Monday and was given a bouquet of flowers and a kiss on the cheek before kick-off by her Brest counterpart, Alex Dupont.
Diacre was appointed as Clermont coach at the end of June replacing another woman – Helena Costa – who quit before coaching a game after claiming male colleagues sidelined her and used her as a “face” to attract publicity.
Costa was the first female manager to be appointed in the highest two divisions of any professional European football league. The Italian third division side Viterbese hired Carolina Morace in 1999 but she resigned after two matches.
Diacre made 121 appearances for France and also captained the national side. She served as the team’s assistant manager for three years before taking charge of Soyaux, the club where she spent her entire playing career.