Bullfight Opinion Poll: As Spain Debates ‘Support for Bullfighting’ Bill, Most Spaniards Oppose Use of Public Funds for Cruel, Waning Bloodsport

Humane Society International

  • It is time for Spanish politicians to do the right thing and abandon their support for the cruel and outdated practice of bullfighting. Christian Martínez Kempin/istock

LONDON – As the Spanish Parliament debates a proposed new law to declare bullfighting a cultural heritage, an Ipsos MORI public opinion poll commissioned by Humane Society International reveals that the majority of Spaniards do not approve of public funds being used for the bloodsport and that three quarters of the population haven’t attended a bullfight in the last five years. Only 29 percent of Spanish people support bullfighting, according to poll results.

A legislative proposal supported by bullfighting enthusiasts to protect and promote bullfighting nationwide is being debated by the Culture Committee before being voted on by the Senate and then the Congress. If passed, public money could be used to fund and promote this bloody spectacle in which bulls are tormented and stabbed repeatedly until death in a bullfighting ring. 

Tell Spain not to protect or promote bullfighting.

“Bullfighting is a cruel and outdated spectacle that has no place in modern Spain,” said Kitty Block, vice president of Humane Society International. “Clearly, the poll shows the vast majority of Spanish people don’t support cruelty to bulls and don’t want to see public funds poured into this appalling bloodsport. Humane Society International urges Spain’s politicians to reject the proposed law, which is a cynical attempt to procure taxpayers’ money to breathe life back into a dying industry. Let’s celebrate Spain’s artistic, cultural and architectural heritage without cruelty and relegate to the history books the torturing of bulls for entertainment.”

Figures released recently by the Culture Ministry show that bullfight attendance is at an all-time low. From 2007 – 2011 bullfights in Spain declined from 3,650 a year to just 2,290 with only a fraction (590) involving top-ranking matadors against adult bulls. Figures are likely to have dropped even further during 2012 following the recession and the introduction of an outright ban on bullfighting in neighbouring Catalonia.


  • Seventy-six percent oppose use of public funds to support the bullfighting industry 
  • Only 29 percent of the population support bullfighting (just 13 percent support it “strongly”)
  • Seventy-five percent of respondents said they hadn’t attended a bullfight in the last five years
  • Seven percent of respondents said they attended a bullfight “about once a year,” compared with 20 percent who said they visited a museum/art exhibition; 19 percent who made theatre visits; and 12 percent who attended football matches
  • Sixty-seven percent agree that children under 16 should not be allowed to attend bullfights

Bullfighting is already banned in many countries including Argentina, Canada, Cuba, Denmark, Italy and the United Kingdom. However, events still take place in Spain, France, Portugal, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador and Mexico. Some Spanish cities, such as Calonge, Tossa de Mar, Vilamacolum and La Vajol, as well as the region of Catalonia, have outlawed bullfighting.

Every year, many thousands of bulls suffer a slow and agonising death in Spanish bullfights. Bulls are routinely subjected to prolonged pain. First the picadors (men on horseback) pierce the bull’s neck with a barbed lance. Then a matador repeatedly stabs the animal with banderillas (spears) before a sword is driven between the bull’s shoulders. In most cases, this injures the bull’s lungs and bronchial tubes, causing blood to flow and bubble through the animal’s mouth and nose before death finally comes.


Media contact:

Wendy Higgins, EU Communications Director: whiggins@hsi.org  +44(0)7989 972 423


Ipsos MORI conducted 1,017 interviews online in Spain on the Ipsos i-omnibus between the 22nd and 25th March 2013. Ipsos i-omnibus is a bi-weekly online survey conducted by Ipsos via the Ipsos Online Panel system in 13 countries around the world. Interviews were with adults aged 16-65yrs. Weighting was employed to balance demographics and ensure the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to the most recent country Census data available and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe.

Cultural Habits and Practices Survey published by the Ministry of Culture, during 2010-2011: http://www.mcu.es/estadisticas/docs/EHC/2010/Sintesis_2010-2011_ingles.pdf 

Humane Society International and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. For more than 20 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide — On the Web at hsi.org.

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