Mari Paz Vega in the ring with a bull
While bullfighting is often seen as a sport by outsiders, aficionados prefer to think of it as a performance, akin to ballet, in which the outcome is uncertain and the ideal for the spectator is not to see the most efficient kill, but to appreciate the skill of the matador and the improvisatory nature of the affair.
Bullfighting has provoked controversy since the 16th century, when it was condemned by Pope Saint Pius V. Today, animal advocates protest that the sport is inherently cruel to the bulls. Critics point out that the goal of the confrontation is for the bull to die and note that the bull is wounded by picadors and banderilleros and loses blood for a considerable period before facing the matador. They also criticize the use of blindfolded horses on the part of the picadors; the horses are also at risk of being gored by the bulls. In 2004, the regional government of Barcelona (part of the Catalan region of Spain, where bullfighting is less popular) voted to ban bullfighting, but the ban was overturned.