How dangerous is bull fighting? No, we’re not working towards the most stupid question of the year award- anyone with any knowledge of the “sport” knows it is very dangerous for the people in it, and let’s not forget the ethics around the treatment of the bull. For the purpose of this blog, lets focus on the danger to people.

Bullfighting still takes place in Spain, Portugal, Mexico, Columbia, Venezuela, Peru and Ecuador, and is considered an art form or cultural event. The bull fatality statistics are far worse than the Matadors (bull fighters) which have significantly decreased in modern times with the invention of things like penicillin, but deaths do still happen.

  • In June 2017 – renowned bull fighter Ivan Fandino, died after tripping on his cape, and being gored in his lung by a bull.
  • June 2017 – Died due to being gored in the back during a bull fight.
  • In July 2016 – Victor Barrio was gored through the chest by a bull, whilst being shown on live TV, due to his cape being blown by a gust of wind: This gave the bull the opportunity to strike, and the matador dies in the ambulance on route to the hospital.
  • September 1984 – Francisco Rivera Pérez died on route to hospital after being gored by a bull.

These are the deaths listed in modern times, but there have definitely been significantly more throughout history due to how old the tradition is. Various records and accounts of ceremonies go back to BC times, and quite frequently the Romans.

Back to modern times, on the website, for 2014 there are a total of 52 injuries, throughout Spain and France, listed which range from a fractured thumb, to a punctured scrotum to traumatic brain injury.

This is only the scheduled fights, let’s not forget the bull runs through towns and villages, where a herd of cattle, probably bulls are antagonised and let loose, and everyone taking part has to out run them to a safe place.

One of the most famous bull runs is held in Pamplona, Spain, and it is estimated that 50 to 100 participants are injured every year. There have also been 15 deaths of participants recorded since 2010 due to goring. Slips and trips have caused the piling up of people, yet the anti slip surfacing that has been installed in one corner of the run,  is mainly to stop the bulls slipping, make the race faster, i.e. there is nothing to cause the bulls to slow down.

Very little precaution is taken in the bull ring for the mateador, and there are limited precautions for the participants in bull runs.

My point is this- In the UK we health and safety is a fundamental part of everyones’ work routine, no matter how low risk a workplace may seem. There is news about people banning street festivals due to the need for using ladders (this has been addressed by HSE Mythbusters) and workers can expect to receive a safety induction for every site or building they work at. So why is it that we share the same legislation with Europe, and there are similar parallels between how each country has interpreted the European Directives, but a cultural tradition like this is allowed to continue without penalty from enforcement agencies?