Shocking pictures emerged in the last couple of days of the Spanish bullfighter Luis Garcia after a bull gored him during a fight in Seville.
The matador lost his footing, and the bull sank a horn into the back of his leg. If you want to see the scale of the incident, you can look it up here – but be warned – it is not for the faint-hearted.
These are horrific injuries, the sort that would ordinarily draw an outpouring of sympathy and well wishes.
Spanish press report that there were three wounds from the bull’s horn, 10, 20 and 30 centimetres deep respectively, with Garcia’s wife describing it as “lucky that the sciatic nerve was not broken.”
He is also, according to reports, allergic to many drugs, and is struggling with pain relief.
This is as horrendous as it is needless. In the 21st century, the images are an anachronism, a picture from a bygone era.
On these shores at least, sympathy was in short supply, as the comments on our original story indicate.
“Should we be sorry for bullfighter?” asked one. “I think not. The bull got my sympathy.”
Another said simply: “Bravo el toro [Congratulations, bull].”
The reason is clear enough – people in Britain by and large consider bull-fighting barbaric. It is not a sport in the traditional sense. Yes, it is man versus beast on paper, but in practice the bull is often doped, stripped of his dignity, and always thrown into a conflict that he did not choose.
What is more, the bull can never win. Take Garcia’s story; you could argue that the bull won, but any ‘victory’, if you can term it that, was transient – tradition dictates that the bull must die, and this one sadly was no different.
You step in the arena, and you do so with knowledge of the risks you take – and, by extension, the sympathies you may forfeit.
It cannot be compared to any other contest.
Yes, it is like motor-racing – except on a bike or behind the wheel you effectively risk nobody’s life but your own.
Indeed, it is like horse-racing – but for the fact that although animals can die on the racetrack, it is not the intention.
Admittedly, bull-fighting requires bravery – but it also requires brutality. And the cruelty outstrips the courage.
Feeling sympathy for an injured bullfighter is something akin to feeling sympathy for a boxer who breaks his hand punching an opponent who has been slipped a few valiums before the bout.
Perhaps a consolation is that while Garcia will recover, he may never be in a position to fight again. One fewer matador.
Catalonia was the first part of mainland Spain to ban bull-fighting completely, the law coming into force just last year. Surely incidents like this – unsavoury, depressing and tragic for man and bull alike – will only accelerate the ban across the rest of the country.
Can you feel sympathy for an injured bullfighter? Have your say below in the comments section