COVID-19 Might Mean the End of Bullfighting in Spain

The pandemic could accelerate the sport's contentious downturn

Bullfighting in Spain
Bullfighting has become increasingly controversial in recent years.
Pablo Cobos/Creative Commons
By Tobias Carroll / May 13, 2020 7:30 am

Bullfighting has come under increased criticism in recent years and been a source of political division within Spain. That’s included clashes between the national government and the region of Catalonia over the practice. The question of whether or not the era of bullfighting would be consigned to history remains an open one, albeit one where the side of phasing it out seemed to be gaining momentum.

Now, however, there’s a new variable to consider, and it’s one that might tip the scales in favor of bringing an end to bullfighting within Spain. A new report from Reuters explores the ways in which COVID-19 may hasten the end of Spanish bullfighting. It is yet another of many public events that’s been affected by pandemic-related cancelations:

Major festivals such as San Isidro, Sevilla’s April Fair, and Pamplona’s San Fermin in July have been cancelled and bulls have been sent from ranches straight to the slaughterhouse.

One bull breeder outlined the worst-case scenario for the industry: a year without bullfights. And while this might be a victory for those who make the (very understandable) argument that bullfighting is an inherently cruel practice, the end of bullfighting would also mean the end of an industry — and a lot of people needing to find a new line of work during an economic crisis.

While breeders might make some money from selling bulls for their meat, the bulk of the revenue they’re looking to earn comes from the bullfighting events. In this instance, COVID-19 has introduced another variable into an already-complex issue — and it might have serious reverberations for a once-iconic practice.

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