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Spain court rules culture voucher must include bullfights

A Spanish court has ruled that a government scheme that grants youths a voucher to spend on cultural activities must be extended to include tickets for bullfights.

Socialist Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s coalition government in 2022 began offering a 400-euro ($430) voucher to young people after they have turned 18 to spend on books or tickets to the theatre, concerts or cinema.

The goal is to help Spain’s culture-related business recover from the loss of revenue during Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns. The scheme was modelled after similar initiatives in France and Italy.

Bullfighting businesses wanted to be included in the scheme too but the government ultimately decided that recipients could not use the voucher to buy tickets for bullfights.

The Fundacion del Toro de Lidia, an NGO that promotes bullfighting in Spain, took the government to court and on Tuesday Spain’s Supreme Court ruled that there was “no justification” for excluding bullfights from the cultural voucher scheme for youths.

Spain’s cultural ministry said Wednesday that in the wake of the court ruling it was opening “the possibility of including” companies that organise bullfighting events or sell tickets to them in the voucher scheme.

Bullfighting retains a passionate following in Spain and leading matadors are treated as celebrities. But the practice’s mass appeal has faded, with polls showing a rising disinterest across Spain, especially among the young.

In 2021, the last year statistics are available, 279 bullfights were held in Spain, down from 387 in 2017 and 810 in 2008, according to culture ministry figures.