BREST, France — Corinne Diacre became the first woman to coach a men's professional football team in a competitive match in France on Monday but saw her Clermont side lose 2-1 at Brest in the second division.
Diacre's managerial stint in men's football 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, and Alexandre Alphonse then 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 equalized but was denied by the woodwork and a fantastic save on the line by Brest goalkeeper Alexis Thebaux.
"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 also celebrated her 40th birthday Monday and was given a bouquet of flowers and a kiss on the cheek before kickoff 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 had been the first female manager to be appointed in the highest two divisions of any professional European football league. 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 its assistant manager for three years before taking charge of Soyaux, the club where she spent her entire playing career.