Madrid's matadors burst back into the bullring

Madrid’s matadors were back in action on Sunday (May 2) -- for the first time in over a year.

The capital's famous Las Ventas bullring welcomed 6,000 fans to watch the bullfight – which was a charity contest to raise money for jobless bullfighters and other workers in the sector.

Almost all of Spain's bullrings, or plazas, have remained closed since lockdown restrictions began - plunging the controversial spectacle and its matadors into financial crisis.

The arena was only filled to 40% of its capacity, and face masks were required for socially-distanced fans - such as Maricarmen Rodriguez.

"I’m excited and very happy, we were looking forward to it because it was a long break. The world of bullfighting can't stop for so long, there are many people who depend on them, breeders and all, and thank God hopefully we are starting now and then one after the other."

Spaniards are divided over the bloody spectacle, with some considering it an art form, while others think it is cruel.

Bullfighting's popularity has declined in recent years, meeting opposition from an increasingly powerful animal rights movement and some left-wing councils that refuse to pay for bull festivals.