Catalonia votes to ban bullfighting
Bloodthirsty ‘sport’ is dying a slow death across Spain, as younger audiences turn away
By Alasdair Fotheringham in Madrid
Already faced with a rapidly ageing fanbase at home and widespread incomprehension and rejection abroad, Spanish bullfighting has suffered another major setback after the Catalan parliament voted to outlaw it completely across the region.
The decision was so controversial that some deputies hunched over their desks to hide their fingers from photographers as they punched in their votes. After a narrow initial victory for the abolitionists – 67 in favour and 59 against – the law could become effective as soon as May.
Spain’s right-wing press was quick to attribute the result to Catalan separatists’ desire to dissociate themselves from an activity often considered as typically Spanish as tapas, siestas and flamenco. Unofficially, though, even before Friday’s decision, it seems bullfighting circles in the rest of Spain had given Catalonia up as a lost cause.
Over the past three decades, bullring after bullring has closed in major Catalan towns such as Gerona, Lloret de Mar and Tarragona, and in Barcelona only one of the original three rings remains. As far back as 1909, Barcelona hosted Spain’s first anti-bullfighting protest, and by 2004 more than 80 per cent of Catalans were opposed to the practice. “Banning the bulls in Catalonia would be like drawing up a death certificate for a long-dead corpse,” said Juan Ilian, a leading Spanish bullfighting correspondent for nearly five decades. “And even if they don’t, it’ll remain on its deathbed.”