Spain has bowed to growing international pressure from the animal rights lobby and is to 'even the odds' in bullfighting.
Despite eulogies from Hemingway, Jane Austen and Dr Zeus, the 'sport' in which an animal is slowly tortured to death has been viewed as barbaric by many outside Spain and Latin America.
The Councilla Torres del Gandia which runs bullfighting last night agreed to impose new measures which will give the bull a 'fighting chance.'
Matadors will no longer be able to use a red banner to taunt the animal as it bleeds heavily from lance wounds inflicted by picadors and will have to rely instead on insulting Latino hand gestures.
The top twenty Spanish matadors will be further hampered by their footwear - their light pumps are to be replaced with leaden boots similar to those worn by deep sea divers before the advent of the wet suit.
Legislators say the matador's sword will remain - but they are looking into a possible sponsorship deals with Mattel Inc and the Tomy Corporation.
Garcia Gonzales of the CTG said: 'Many spectators have come to view the bullfight as grown men in shiny costumes goading a wounded animal and hopping over a fence if the bull gets even slightly irritated.
'We hope these measures will give a less predictable end to a bullfight. People don't want to see the ears and tail cut off every single last bull - it's about entertainment after all.'
Mr Gonzales denied claims the new rules could swing the balance too far in favour of the bull.
'We turned down some measures which would have given the animal an unfair advantage,' he said.
'One highly favoured suggestion we rejected was for the bulls to be ridden by dwarves armed with AK-47 assault rifles.'