A judge extended a ban on bullfighting in Mexico City indefinitely, raising the likelihood that the season will be canceled at what claims to be the world’s largest remaining venue.
La Plaza Mexico, as the stadium is known, issued a statement Friday calling on fans to protest the ruling. The stadium urged bullfight supporters to post pictures of themselves with the word “freedom” written on their hands.
The company said it would appeal the ruling.
“The company will postpone the scheduled bullfights and novilladas and will continue with the legal defense of Mexican customs and traditions, to the full extent the law allows,” Plaza Mexico said in a statement.
However, a higher court has already rejected one appeal against the ruling. Further hearings must be held on whether to uphold the ban or make it permanent.
The judge originally decreed a temporary ban in May, based on complaints that bullfights violated residents’ rights to a healthy environment free from violence.
Bullfights had been scheduled at the city’s main professional ring in July and September, according to previous announcements.
The decision threatens to mark the end of almost 500 years of bullfighting in Mexico.
According to historians, Spanish conqueror Hernán Cortés watched some of the first bullfights in the city in the 1520s, soon after his 1521 Conquest of the Aztec capital.
Since 2013, four states in Mexico have already banned bullfights, and polls indicate substantial support for a ban. A ban in Mexico City — currently the largest venue for the events — would be an international setback for bullfighting.
Last year, the Mexico City assembly’s Animal Welfare Commission gave preliminary approval to a law banning public events “at which animals are subject to mistreatment and cruelty that result in their death.” But the bill never made it to a vote before the full assembly.