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Bullfighting organisations are facing backlash after asking the Spanish government for a €700 million (£634 million) bailout to help save the controversial sport.
Spain is currently on lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, with countless businesses forced to close their doors and residents being urged to stay inside to help prevent people from catching and spreading the virus. While entire sports leagues have postponed or cancelled games and seasons altogether
Bullfighting is just one sport affected by the lockdown, as fans are unable to gather in stadiums to watch the gory events unfold.
Following the lockdown in Spain, several organisations that defend and promote bullfights penned a joint letter to culture minister José Manuel Rodríguez Uribes, asking for the government to save bullfighting by giving the sector an estimated €700m (£634m) in taxpayer cash.
Bosses requested the government refund tickets for cancelled shows and pay the bullfighters’ wages, that VAT should be dropped further, and that the state should cover their sanitary and veterinary expenses.
Though there’s no confirmation yet on how the government will respond to the requests, Uribes has reportedly committed himself to resolving the situation – a move which has provoked fury from animal rights activists.
Madrid-based Marta Esteban, of Animal Guardians, criticised the bullfighting sector for asking for hundreds of millions of euros, despite the fact it already receives government funding.
They say they lost €700m. I guess that’s what they are looking for. But there’s no confirmation from the government on what they will do.
In a moment in which the rest of Spain is giving its all to help each other, the bullfighting world is thinking on how to get money from us to help themselves.
The business of torturing animals for entertainment should never get public funding, much less now when the health system and helping the most needy should be the priority.
As Spanish residents are unable to protest on the streets, hundreds of infuriated activists have taken to social media to slam bullfighting bosses for their requests.
The country’s number-one trending Twitter hashtag quickly became ‘#AyudasTauromaquiaNO’, meaning ‘no help to bullfighting’.
Many directly addressed the culture minister and the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, and shared selfies holding messages demanding ‘more health workers, less bullfighters’.
Aïda Gascón, director of the Spanish NGO AnimaNaturalis, argued the government should reallocate all bullfighting subsidies to help support the health system and the economy.
We believe not only that the government should ignore these demands, but that it should rethink aid to bullfighting and allocate it where it is most necessary.
Public resources should not be used to promote shows based on animal abuse and mistreatment.
Even less so in the coming months, when all public effort and support will be needed to allocate them to health resources and to alleviate economic effects for families, freelancers and companies.
In 2016, Ipsos MORI polled Spaniards between the ages of 16 and 65 and found 58% opposed the sport, while 19% supported it. The same poll found only one in 10 Spaniards wanted public funds used on the bullfighting industry, while six of 10 strongly disagreed with that use.
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