Chaplin becomes first men's squad ambassador for LGBTQ+ group
- Credit: Francine Flisher
An Ipswich Town player hoping to help make matches comfortable for all fans is believed to be the first current men's player to become an ambassador of an LGBTQ+ supporters group.
Conor Chaplin will support the Rainbow Tractors in its work to make Portman Road an inclusive space for supporters and allies, as well as raise awareness of the issues faced by LGBTQ+ fans in attending, playing and enjoying football.
Francine Flisher, chair of the Rainbow Tractors, said: "I believe this is the first time a current first-team men's player has become ambassador of an LGBTQ+ supporters group. There are ex-players and women's players for other clubs but according to my research, no men's player who is still playing.
"It was kind of surprising when you see how successful other groups have been, but on the other hand, it's such a big discussion in men's football. I think sometimes it's hard for players to feel they can come out to support a group."
This month marks LGBTQ+ history month and Football vs Homophobia, but Conor's first involvement was when he met Francine and fellow member Robson Trench in November to mark Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign.
Speaking to the club's website, Conor said: "When I had my chat with Francine and Robson, it really opened my eyes.
"Everyone should be able to come to a match, support their team and feel comfortable. The work the club and the group are doing is great, and I’m happy to be part of raising awareness."
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The Rainbow Tractors was first set up eight years ago, but following a period of inactivity, is now led by Miss Filsher.
Francine added: "We want to work with the club and the fans to help make Portman Road more inclusive for everybody. I think things are starting to head that way.
"Our message is everybody should feel comfortable watching Ipswich.
"It’s a big statement of support and shows that there really is a desire for inclusivity and an understanding for how important this group is.
"When someone who is a first-team player says that they stand up and support us, it shows to other people how important it is."