Bullfighting to end in Spain's Catalonia, for now

Updated: 2011-09-22 16:53


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BARCELONA - Bullfighting fans willshout "Ole" for the last time in Barcelona's Monumental bullringon Sunday before a ban on the sport takes effect across thenortheastern Spanish region of Catalonia.

The regional legislature banned the centuries-old tradition-- which pits a sword-wielding matador in a skin-tight shinysuit and red cape against an enraged bull -- last year after Catalans signed a petition against it.

The bullfighting industry is still convinced it has a chance to overturn the ban and bring back the "toros" next season to Catalonia, the only mainland region in Spain that has blockedthe sport -- or the art as its fans see it.

"I think the politicians will think twice about the ban and bullfighting will live on. And thank God because Catalonia hasplenty of serious bullfighting fans and in a democratic country they should be able to go to a bullfight," said Moises Fraile,64, owner of El Pilar, the breeder supplying bulls for Sunday'sspectacle.

Some 20,000 spectators are expected to fill a sold-out Monumental -- the only bullring still operating in Catalonia --for Sunday's blockbuster corrida starring celebrated Madrid "torero" Jo se Tomas.

Tomas retired in 2002, but came back in 2007 at abullfight in Monumental, his favourite ring. Since then he has made sporadic appearances and is the onlybullfighter who can still sell out Monumental.  

"There are several catalysts which could lead to the ban being overturned," said Paco March, bullfighting critic for LaVanguardia, Catalonia's top newspaper.

March said the conservative People's Party -- one of Spain's two main political forces -- is fighting the ban on constitutional grounds and the Catalonia Bullfighting Federationis collecting signatures to petition the Spanish Congress.

Spain's economic woes could also be a factor as regional governments such as Catalonia are under enormous pressure to cut spending and help the country trim its public deficit as it tries to dodge the euro zone debt crisis.

Such austerity measures could make it difficult for the Catalonian government to pay Monumental's owner, Pedro Balana,several million euros for the building.


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