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Outrage Over £600m Bullfighting Bailout Plan To Save Cruel Blood Sport

by : Lucy Connolly on : 25 May 2020 12:04

Warning: Graphic Content

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A bailout plan for bullfighting organisations that could cost Spanish taxpayers hundreds of millions of Euros has sparked outrage.

With the country under lockdown since mid-March as a result of the ongoing global health crisis, the cruel blood sport has been unable to go ahead as usual – leading organisers to ask the government for a €700 million (£623 million) bailout.

While there’s been no confirmation from the government on how it will respond, some local governments have already offered to help out; bullfighting is reportedly getting a tax break in Madrid, with the cruel sport also receiving €1.4 million in funding in Andalusia.

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Although bullfights are protected under the Spanish constitution as part of the country’s cultural heritage, support for the practice in the country is continuously diminishing as calls for it to end increase.

According to Animal Guardians, an organisation ‘dedicated to defending animals worldwide against cruelty and exploitation’, support for bullfighting across Spain has fallen from 30% to 19% in less than three years.

Opposition has therefore rallied against a national bailout, with more than 800 groups – including animal charities, shelters, veterinary clinics and more – penning an open letter in which they warn much-needed resources should not be wasted on an industry ‘doomed to disappearance’, particularly when a ‘heartbreaking economic recession’ is already on the cards.

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Alessandro Zara, from animal rights group La Tortura No Es Cultura (Torture Is Not Culture), explained:

In the letter, the groups address the inevitable end to bullfighting, citing 84% of young people who declare they are not proud of living in a country where bullfighting is a cultural tradition.

Figures published by official sources show the number of bullfighting celebrations in bullrings has fallen by 58.4% in the last decade.

And polls show that 78% of Spanish citizens are opposed to subsidising bullfighting with public money, causing us to ask: ‘Why is this growing anti-bullfighting sentiment being ignored?’

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Marta Esteban, from Animal Guardians, pondered whether it would be ‘wiser to invest in projects to convert bullfighting to other activities that will not disappear in the not-too-distant future’, adding: ‘If you really want to help people in this industry, a conversion plan would be the best help. Investing in bullfighting is like investing in typewriters.’

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Bullfighting bosses disagree though, and expect the government to refund cancelled show tickets and pay their matadors’ wages – among other things. They also asked for a further drop in VAT, and said the state should cover their sanitary and veterinary expenses.

One of the groups calling for a bailout is Fundación del Toro de Lidia, whose head, Victorino Martín, said in an interview last week: ‘The animals continue to eat. You have to take care of them and the employees. What industry could survive a year and a half without any income and still cover its costs?’

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The central government has so far avoided mentioning bullfighting specifically when talking about its plans for market intervention, but activists believe this is deliberate.

In fact, they fear there is a lot of scope to bail out the practice by classifying matadors as artists in public shows, and by giving agricultural aid to bullfighting farms.

Now, they are asking for clarity and complete transparency from the government regarding any ‘aid or subsidy’ that is destined for the bullfighting sector. The government has yet to respond to their letter.

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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Animals, Animal Cruelty, Bullfighting, Bulls, Coronavirus, Madrid, Spain, Sport