Helena Costa accuses Clermont of 'amateurism' and 'lack of 'respect'

The Portuguese was set to become the first woman to take charge of a professional club in the top two tiers of any European league in the men's game, but has changed her mind
Helena Costa has revealed she left her position as coach of French Ligue 2 club Clermont because of the "amateurism" and "lack of respect" she encountered at the club.

Costa, a Portuguese who began her career in the youth ranks of Benfica, was set to become the first female coach of a professional club in the top two tiers of any European league in the men's game, but has quit after her first day in the job.

Announcing her departure on Monday, the club's president Claude Michy called Costa's decision "sudden and surprising", but in a statement issued to A Bola, the 36-year-old insists it was "due to a sequence of events that no coach would tolerate".

Costa claims that Clermont sporting director Olivier Chavanon did not respond to her emails for five days, and that she learned of prospective signings and the pre-season fixture schedule from the club secretary.

When she requested more information on signings and voiced her disapproval of some of the chosen targets, Costa says Chavanon replied: "Your emails are tiresome ... I'm not your PA ... I'm not at your disposal".

Costa reveals she then arranged a meeting with Michy and demanded that Chavanon be sacked but, having agreed to intervene personally, the Clermont president then broke off all communication with her.

When the news of Costa's departure broke Michy claimed to be mystified and told reporters: "She’s a woman. They are capable of leading us to believe in certain things and then she simply said 'I'm going.'

"We couldn't make her change her mind. She leaves with her secret intact."

Sonia Saouid, the former beauty queen and football agent who helped bring Costa to Clermont, condemned the Portuguese's decision to leave in an interview with L'Equipe on Tuesday.

"I don’t recognise the Helena Costa who turned up for the press conference last month," she insisted.

"We were just confronted with a wall. Her mind was made up. I am sad and angry for all the women who would like to have been in her place. I am angry because she has made a selfish decision."

In 2013 Hilda Ordonez became the first woman to take charge of a South American top-flight team when she was appointed head coach of Bolivian first division club Sport Boys Warnes for the final three games of the season.