Bullfighting in Barcelona ends with Catalonia ban


Supporters for and against the ban clashed in Barcelona after the fight

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Bullfighting fans in Catalonia have seen the last fights before a ban on the age-old tradition comes into effect in Spain's north-eastern region.

About 20,000 spectators filled Barcelona's famous Monumental arena, where top matadors performed.

Lawmakers voted for the ban last year - the first in mainland Spain - after 180,000 people signed a petition.

They say the bullfighting is barbaric, but opponents say they will challenge the ban in Spain's top court.

Sell-out show

Start Quote

For a city like Barcelona to close this arena is like throwing a Picasso painting into the garbage”

End Quote Critobal Corrida fan

The ban takes effect on 1 January, but Sunday's fights in Catalonia were the last events of the 2011 season.

Spain's top three matadors performed at the arena on Sunday, including legendary Jose Tomas.

They killed six half-tonne bulls to loud shouts of "Ole!" of the fans.

After the last animal was killed, the crowd carried the three matadors on their shoulders out of the arena to the applause of onlookers.

"For a city like Barcelona to close this arena is like throwing a Picasso painting into the garbage," Cristobal, one of the fans at the Monumental, was quoted as saying by the AFP news agency.

Tickets for the historic bullfights in Barcelona sold out at record speed. They were trading on the black market for up to five times their original value, the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Spain reports.

Many corrida (bullfighting) fans protested outside the arena, carrying posters which read "RIP" in blood-red letters and blowing whistles.


  • Those taking part in the a bullfight are called toreros, while the person in charge of killing the bull is the matador de toros - killer of bulls
  • Fighters can be awarded the bull's ears, tail or hooves as a trophy
  • Barcelona's last bullring, the Monumental, stages 15 fights each year - each contest involves about six bulls
  • Author Ernest Hemingway was an admirer of Spanish bullfighting and wrote about its rituals in 1932 in Death in the Afternoon
  • The tradition dates back at least 4,000 years and is thought to have been popularised by the Romans
  • It remains popular in southern France, Portugal and some South American countries

But such large crowds have been rare at the Barcelona bullring for some time, and this dwindling support is one reason the regional parliament voted in favour of banning the corrida, our correspondent adds.

She adds that there is also a growing awareness of animal rights and, crucially, the desire of Catalan nationalists to distinguish the region from the rest of Spain and its traditions.

Bullfighting is permitted in all other regions of Spain except in the Canary Islands, which banned it in 1991.

Campaigners hope to extend the ban across the country, but they face a far tougher task in traditional bullfighting heartlands like Andalucia and Madrid, our correspondent says.

She says many people there dismiss all talk of cruelty and argue that the corrida is an age-old art form that must be protected and preserved.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    Continued from last post: Also, we as a nation overall condemned the small number of children taking part in the cage fights, whereas Bullfighting has been a tradition in Spain for centuries and is attended by tens of thousands of bloodthirsty people, not a couple of dozen working class blokes in a pub. They're utterly incomparable debates. If you don't understand this Tiffany, you're clueless.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    This would only be sport of an equal number of humans and animals were killed. They aren't so this is no more than a "fun" passtime and decent people don't kill anything for fun. Only psychopaths do that.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    "Algernon Fluffwood
    I'm really surprised that the EU hasn't issued a Europe wide ban on this. They seem to get involved & have some say in everything that we do in the UK"

    " everything"? Really? Did they impose the ban on fox hunting? Did they impose the highest student fees in the EU? Are they forcing through NHS and education reforms? Perhaps we might prefer EU harmonisation in these areas!

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    This is good news, even better that it has come from Catalonia itself. Remember, the bull has no choice in all this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    I have seen bullfights in Spain and I was shocked by the threat to the matadors. It is a frighteningly dangerous activity and the men who fight bulls are unbelievably courageous, risking their lives every time they face a bull. It has to be seen to be believed and I would not go again for fear of seeing someone killed before my very eyes. As for the bulls, they are doing what comes naturally.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    Comment number 86. Tiffany
    So, in a country where we have CHILDREN fight each other in a club whilst grown ups watch, WE take the moral high ground?

    Yes, and it doesn't take a genius philosopher to understand why. Having parents allow their children to fight in a fully protected and disciplined sport is not as bad as slaughtering animals for entertainment. You must recognise this, surely.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.


    Completely agree with all your comments, bar 1

    "could you British also forbid boxing, another inhuman "sport"?" just a point to remember - humans have a choice

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    Bullfighting is not a sport, it is cruel against animals.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    Before we say Hurrah or Boo for Catalonia, shouldn't we put our own house in order? We still have hare coursing, dog fighting and badger baiting, albeit illegally.May I add that, against the comments earlier about them being perpetrated by old traditionalists, most of those caught are young macho lads. As an older person I take offence at those comments.

  • Comment number 87.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    So, in a country where we have CHILDREN fight each other in a club whilst grown ups watch, WE take the moral high ground?

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    Yet another small part of the human race takes yet another small, slow, painful, contested step towards that far horizon, civilisation.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    It's a game of charades. This ban springs more from a sense of Catalan nationalism rather than rejecting crruelty to animals. And the BBC is wrong to say this is the first ban in Spain; 20 years ago the Canary Islands banned bullfighting, but the anti-Catalan lobby in Madrid let that one pass without a murmur. Brian, Barcelona

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    Good news about the bullfighting ban, following on from the fox hunting ban in the UK. However, there's still the brutality of factory farming. What about experiments on animals - many, as far as I know, not even done for medical research but for yet more commercial products. A new Copernican revolution is needed to recognise our species as one among many in this Universe and not the centre

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    @ 75.chrislabiff
    Are they still throwing donkeys from towers?

    Only the naughty ones

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    @ 73 Robbie B.... They hear their "Friends Screams".... I won't hazard a guess that animals lack the sentience and congitive ability to have a friend...Babe was a work of fiction you know! this custom would have died out naturally...We are still hunter gathers by evolution, despite what the Guardian tells us we should feel

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    I've always thought that I would prefer to live like a toro bravo and die like one than live like a cow as milking machine and die in a slaughter house.They are killing toros bravo forever. Nobody will want to spend so much time and money raising them. Those wonderful dehesas will be converted in golf courses for the tourists.nNatural spaces will be certainly improved and covered with cement.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    How about banning a few other barbaric sports? Rugby comes to mind!

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Nothing wrong with hunting for food.

    But killing for pleasure - like Bullfighting, Fox hunting and the rest - is disgusting. Of course it should be banned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    Bullfighting has many similar animal welfare concerns as Fox Hunting. If regulation can't ensure good practices that aren't cruel, the only option is a ban. However, there are some that even want a horse racing ban. Engaging with sporting operators and regulators would be a less draconian way of prevent animal cryelty. Sport should be fun and not at the expense of pain to the forced contenders.


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