The coronavirus pandemic has not only paralyzed the bullfighting season; He has left his followers breathless, who analyze with great concern the present and the future of the bullfighting festival.
Six committed fans have sat around a virtual table, representatives of as many groups of men and women who passionately live a ‘poison’ that excites or bores them, depending on the case, and patiently waits for the storm to pass and the celebrations, those that today, and it is not known for how long, are suspended. At the moment, the bull is confined and wearing a mask, as reflected in the photo that illustrates this text, original by Octavio Mulet, chief surgeon at La Maestranza.
Here are Jesús María Fernández, Diego Martínez and Agustín Colomar who are the heads of the Madrid, Seville and Valencia subscriber unions, respectively; and Sabino Gutiérrez, José María Sevilla and Isidoro Ruiz, presidents of the Club Cocherito de Bilbao, the Bullfighting Club of Pamplona, and the Peña Taurina de Tarazona de la Mancha.
They all show their unease in the face of such an unexpected crisis, agree that the economic and mental consequences will be very serious, they have serious doubts that the sector alone is capable of facing changes, and they are convinced that there are many and varied measures that would to adopt so that bullfighting is able to ‘revive’ and interest the public again.
“The general situation is pessimistic; If bullfighting was not going in the right direction, now the trend will worsen, “says the president of Seville subscribers, Diego Martinez. “This pandemic has left us defenseless,” adds Jesús María Fernández. “This bull, named COVIP 19,” he continues, “badly faced and evil, has inferred an enormous goring in the scarpa triangle, with a serious prognosis and unforeseeable consequences.” “Sad” feels Valencian Agustín Colomar; “Worried”, the president of the Cocherito, Sabino Gutiérrez; “Hoping that the situation will be resolved soon”, Navarrese José María Sevilla, and Albacete Isidoro Ruiz prefers to convey his sorrow for the dead and sick of this tragedy.
The six fans agree on the magnitude of the consequences of the pandemic.
“The organizational structure of the party is leading us to a dire situation”
The Navarrese José María Sevilla speaks of “disaster for all bullfighting sectors, especially for the ranchers”. He adds that in 2021 there will be an excess supply of bulls and prices will drop, with the obvious damage to minority castings.
Diego Martínez, a subscriber to La Maestranza, is blunt: “Livestock will disappear, the few municipalities that do so will no longer subsidize festivities, the number of shows will decrease, and public attendance will decrease for fear of contagion.”
“The consequences will be very negative,” says Isidoro Ruiz; “Especially for those who have animals to support.”
In the opinion of the representative of Madrid subscribers, Jesús María Fernández, the first great effect has been the suspension of major fairs at the start of the season. And he adds: “How many will come to the squares, when possible, with the risk of possible uncontrolled contagion?”
“Serious economic and mental consequences” adventure Agustín Colomar. And he adds: “The current disconnection of the public and subscribers can produce a fatal exodus for the party.”
“I imagine that, in the short term, livestock farms will have economic difficulties; in fact, I think they are taking bulls to the slaughterhouse. This situation may reinforce our approach towards anti-bullfighting in the sense that if there are no shows the brave bull will disappear, ”says the president of the Cocherito Club.
Fans offer different opinions on the bullfighting changes that the pandemic can bring.
Agustín Colomar is clear: “The truth is that I don’t expect any. Given the immobility of the sector in the recent past, no substantial or even minimal changes are anticipated, and if there are not, pessimism prevails. “
“Would it be possible to hold televised bullfights without an audience? For lack of bread …”
The president of the Club Cocherito is more ‘politically correct’ in his comments: “There will be changes in almost everything, so in the bullfighting sector too. We will see how public performances are planned in the future and with what kind of measures. ”
“It is necessary and obligatory that there are changes,” says Isidoro Ruiz. “The organizational structure with which the Festival of the Bulls is developed,” he continues, “is leading us to a dire situation in terms of young people approaching the bulls and the disenchantment of those who are already a certain age.”
Diego Martínez shows no hope: “The bullfighting sector is stopped. He has never before offered practical and original solutions to the bullfighting crisis, so I foresee little or no change. ”
And of the same opinion is Jesús María Fernández: “Honestly, I see very few changes, since the world of the bull is very divided and its resistance to any movement has become evident through time, including the last century.”
For his part, the president of the Bullfighting Club of Pamplona affirms that “everything will depend on how long the pandemic lasts.” “If the year is given up,” he adds, “the sector should study actions to attract the disenchanted public and, above all, the younger ones.”
The last question in the debate asks what measures the sector should undertake, and the answers are wide and varied.
Isidoro Ruiz, president of the Peña Taurina de Tarazona de la Mancha, advocates the disappearance of many of the internal vices that tarnish the party, such as “the power of certain agents, in some cases gangsters, who between two or three manage their whim this world of bulls, bullfighters go up and down at their free will and the figures fold to be seized if they want to be at the fairs where money is made ”.
Agustín Colomar argues that the viewer would see the changes well “because we are very stagnant”. And it provides measures in seven sections: “economy (cheaper costs and localities prices); organization (making of posters); bullfighting regulations (recover bullfighting values); bullfighting schools; improvement of seats (functionality and comfort); public function (from politicians little is expected), and bullfighting criticism (an endemic evil) ”.
“The bullfighting festival contributes large revenues to the public coffers,” says Jesús María Fernández; “Consequently, in the same way that the Government has already announced subsidies for theater, cinema, etc., logically it must do the same for bullfighting.”
Diego Martínez says he expects nothing from politicians, and advocates a tax cut, a more attractive bullfighting and that the figures lower their fees.
Sabino Gutiérrez advocates for economic, social and professional measures. “We tend to say that the sector basically works as in Manolete’s time, and that it has not adapted to the times in terms of organization as such. It could be a good time to tackle that comprehensive reform from the ground up. “
“If there is a will, changes should be made in all sectors of bullfighting with the sole purpose of saving it,” says José María Sevilla. In his opinion, it is very sad to see half-empty squares, he considers that “there are bullfighters who are already very well seen, and they always advertise with the same stud farms; “And the bull has become an excessively docile animal.”
Two questions remained: will the Sanfermines be held? And the Bilbao General Bullfights?
The president of the Bullfighting Club of Pamplona responds to the first: “I would like it to be so, but I think that this year, in July, they will not see each other, and we will see if in September …”
And Bilbao? “Hopefully the fair can be held,” says the president of the Cocherito Club. “Only in the year 1936 there were no General Bullfights, and I trust it will continue to be so, and 2020 will not be left blank.”
The icing on the conversation is put by the president of the Madrid Subscribers Union, Jesús María Fernández: “Would it be possible to hold televised bullfights without an audience? For lack of bread …”