2023 Women’s World Cup: Juventus’ Sara Gama criticises Bertolini’s communication after squad exclusion

Milena Bertolini has not yet named her final Women's World Cup squad, but we know that Juventus Women's Sara Gama won't be in it. The defender has spoken honestly about the exclusion, and Bertolini has responded.

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Juventus Women defender Sara Gama has spoken publicly about her disappointment not to be included in the Italy Women’s squad for the upcoming 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

The final 23-player squad has not yet been named for the tournament by Milena Bertolini, but the provisional 32-player squad has been named and it did not include the 34-year-old Gama, who has been a central figure for both the Azzurre and Juventus for many years.

The exclusion led to an Instagram post from Gama in which she discusses the way in which the decision was communicated, as well as the state of her physical health with the World Cup in mind.

Juventus Women’s Sara Gama. [@JuventusFCWomen]

Gama says she ‘maintained the optimal condition’

Whilst being 34 years of age puts Gama among the older players in the Italy setup, there are few in the Italian women’s football world who would say that she has nothing to offer.

Juventus and AS Roma Women’s season went on longer than others as they competed in the Coppa Italia Femminile final on June 4. Players from those two clubs were sent physical preparation regimens by the Azzurre and Gama explains that she followed it exactly, before then finding out she will not go.

“After having undergone the physical training received, like my teammates, by the National team staff to maintain the optimal condition that I had achieved in the last six months of work with my club, I learned only three days ago that I will not be part of the squad that will leave for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand,” Gama said on Instagram.

Gama references poor Azzurre communication

Gama’s decision to speak out on this matter shows that she is not happy with the way that it was handled. Whilst maintaining a professional tone, it is clear that Gama felt the need to say her piece publicly.

“I have always had great respect for roles and, as a professional, I accept the choice of the Technical Commissioner, despite the bitterness of these difficult hours for the manner and timing with which this decision was communicated to me,” she wrote.

After outlining her journey with the Italian national team, which began with the U17s back in 2005, she added that she expected to get one last chance to serve as captain.

“With this background and with this spirit, putting myself completely at the disposal of the team, I prepared myself to be able to give my last contribution as captain to the national team. Unfortunately, that will not be possible,” Gama said.

Milena Bertolini, coach of the Italian Women’s National Team. (@AzzurreFIGC)

Bertolini offers her response to Gama

Italy boss Milena Bertolini got the chance to respond publicly to Gama’s declarations on Monday during her press conference, as reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport.

When asked about Gama’s exclusion, Bertolini quickly responded with a counter-question: “Let me ask you a question, before yours: Do you think I made such a choice lightly?”

Explaining further, Bertolini said: “It is my duty and responsibility to try to take the best decisions. The exclusion of Sara is mainly a technical, tactical and physical choice. So many young players are growing up, for the idea of football that I want to bring to the World Cup, I think there are currently players who are more advanced than her.”

In terms of how it was communicated to Gama, Bertolini said: “There is no right time for such a complicated decision, also from a personal point of view, given my history with the players. I phoned Sara when I had cleared up all the doubts. It is understandable that the teammates are disappointed, but I also see great enthusiasm in their daily work.”

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