Bullfighting to end in Spain's Catalonia, for now

Wed Sep 21, 2011 10:42am EDT
 
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By Alice Tozer

BARCELONA, Spain (Reuters) - Bullfighting fans will shout "Ole" for the last time in Barcelona's Monumental bullring on Sunday before a ban on the sport takes effect across the northeastern Spanish region of Catalonia.

The regional legislature banned the centuries-old tradition -- which pits a sword-wielding matador in a skin-tight shiny suit 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 blocked the 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 has plenty 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's spectacle.

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" Jose Tomas.

Tomas retired in 2002, but came back in 2007 at a bullfight in Monumental, his favorite ring. Since then he has made sporadic appearances and is the only bullfighter who can still sell out Monumental.

"There are several catalysts which could lead to the ban being overturned," said Paco March, bullfighting critic for La Vanguardia, 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 Federation is collecting signatures to petition the Spanish Congress.   Continued...

 
<p>Spanish bullfighter Enrique Ponce performs a pass to a bull during a bullfight at Monumental bullring in Barcelona July 17, 2011. REUTERS/Albert Gea</p>