Bulls are tortured during local festivals and in arenas in Spain, Portugal, southern France, Venezuela, Mexico, Columbia, Ecuador and Peru. Bullfighting is a cruel, archaic tradition, which is thankfully losing more and more support and becoming less and less acceptable. Nevertheless, the practice continues, notably thanks to the significant public subsidies which allow it to remain profitable.

What is it?

Bullfighting is a traditional event at which 6 bulls are made to fight 3 'toreros'. The fight is divided into three parts, called 'tercios'. Each one inflicts enormous suffering on the animals.

First tercio: The bull enters the arena, where the torero and his team are waiting. The team start to move their capes to distract and disorientate the animal. It is the first time the bull finds itself in an arena, overwhelmed by the huge, noisy crowd and loud music. Scared, the bull charges. At that moment, the 'picador', a torero mounted on horseback, arrives to injure the bull for the first time, lancing it in the back several times. This process is designed to damage the bull's neck muscles to the point where it can hardly lift its head, making the matador's work easier. In the vast majority of cases, this manoeuvre is not carried out as it 'should' be, causing the animal additional pain. During this first stage, the animal loses a lot of blood, becomes weaker, more stressed, and experiences acute pain.

Second tercio: The 'banderillos' appear and embed six 'banderillas' - sticks with barbed steel points - in the bull's back. The animal suffers severe new injuries, loses more blood and experiences increased pain.

Third tercio: The animal is put to death. If all goes 'to plan', the torero, after performing several passes with his cape, kills the bull by thrusting his sword between the bull's shoulder blades, directly into its lungs and heart. This is why the bull spits blood as it dies. However, in the majority of cases, the torero does not place the sword correctly. The bull is therefore in agony for several minutes until the torero eventually manages to kill it by thrusting a knife into the base of the skull (in bullfighting language, this is called 'descabello').

And this morbid, incredibly violent performance is accompanied by the applause and cheers of the crowd.

Why is bullfighting not acceptable?

Bullfighting is a bloody, inhumane, completely outdated 'sport'.

Firstly, the majority of vets agree that it inflicts intolerable suffering on the bulls. Dr. José Enrique Zaldivar Laguía, a vet opposed to bullfighting, explains in one of his reports that "the hormonal response to pain – in other words the release of large quantities of beta-endorphins detected in bulls' blood after a fight – is the usual reaction of an organism in severe pain and under serious stress (...).” (read the report here). How the bullfight unfolds and how quickly the bull is killed, depends on the 'talent' of the toreros. Often, their lack of precision increases the torture inflicted on the animals even further.

But the bulls are not the only victims of these macabre traditions. Bullfights can be seriously dangerous for both, the toreros and the audience. As well as the bulls and horses, violence in bullfighting has other victims as well, namely the children and adolescents who attend bullfighting schools, adults who take part in bullfights, and the spectators of bullfighting events of all kinds.

The Actions of FFW

In all of the countries where bullfighting is still practised - Spain, Portugal, France, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Peru - Fondation Franz Weber (FFW) is working actively with local organisations and celebrities to bring about the abolition of this cruel practice.

FFW has in particular lent its support to the platform "Prou!" ("Enough!" in Catalan), which brings together activists opposing this cruel tradition, and which launched a popular legislative initiative aiming to abolish bullfighting in Catalonia (Spain) once and for all. On 28 July 2010, thanks to an active campaign and intense lobbying, the Catalans voted in favour of this initiative. A real victory against barbarity and animal torture!

On a European level, FFW launched the #NoMoreFunds campaign in order to stop EU subsidies being given to the bullfighting industry. This work is also carried out at the regional and national levels, on the basis that public funds should not be used to finance such a barbaric tradition. In October 2015, the European Parliament accepts two amendments that demand to end all EU subsidies to the bullfighting industry.

The FFW also operates internationally against the participation and attendance of minors at bullfights, as part of the campaign titled «Childhood WITHOUT viOLEnce». As a result of this campaign, the United Nations, through the Committee on the Rights of the Child, has called on the international community to protect people under the age of 18 from all forms of violence, including the violence in bullfights and connected events, taking as its legal basis the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in resolution 44/25 on 20 November 1989 (CRC). Accordingly, the Fondation Franz Weber has presented investigation reports detailing in depth which are the bullfighting activities in Portugal, Colombia, Mexico, France and Peru (the bullfighting countries countries currently supervised by the Committee on the Rights of the Child) and attended the pre-sessions and sessions with the Committee and Government delegations, respectively, held in Geneva (Switzerland) with regard to the above countries.

Thus, in the formulation of the Final Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child regarding compliance with and application of the CRC by these countries, a statement has been incorporated relating to the violation of the rights of the child when taking part in and attending bullfighting events, calling on the countries of [(Portugal (January 2014), Colombia (January 2015), Mexico (June 2015), Peru and France (February 2016)] to adopt legislative, administrative and educational measures to prohibit the involvement of children in bullfighting and connected events, which includes their prior training in bullfighting schools, their participation as child bullfighters and their attendance of these events; special protection measures on the economic exploitation that these activities represent for children, considering said activity to be dangerous and degrading work, and one of the worst forms of child labour; and measures to raise awareness of the physical and mental violence, and its impact on children.

To strengthen the position of the United Nations, the principle of the best interest of the child was used, which is directly linked to the right of the child to access culture, according to which access to this cultural activity is relegated to a lower plane in order to obtain the maximum satisfaction of other priority rights, such as the right to physical, mental, moral and emotional development; and the principle of joint responsibility of society, family and the State, which makes the State jointly responsible for ensuring the rights of the child when the parents fail to fulfil these duties.

In addition, FFW has its own team of activists opposed to bullfighting, that take concrete action on the ground every day. Their work collecting data (notably on the amounts of public subsidies given to the industry, on the ages and number of children taking part in bullfights) and informing the public via conferences, information sessions and marketing activities, etc., means that every day we move a little closer to a complete ban on bullfighting.

Campaigns of FFW against bullfighting:

Useful link:


08.02.2018 – The UN calls on Spain to shield children and adolescents from bullfighting
24.07.2017 – The deathblow for bullfighting
04.02.2016 – UN: Children in France and Peru must also be protected from the violence of bullfighting