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Hundreds of fans watching the Europa League final on ITV4 caused a furor as images of a girl resembling missing Madeline McCann were beamed across the nations television screens.
The match, contested between Portuguese team Benfica and Spain’s Sevilla, was played in Turin, Italy and was covered by ITV for British television audiences. The Spaniards went on to win the game 4-2 on penalties but it wasn’t the action on the pitch that had people enthusiastically taking to social media.
During the coverage, a camera was directed onto a section of the crowd and showed a young girl in a red top, clapping as the game progressed. People watching noticed the resemblance between this girl and that of Madeline McCann, who went missing in May 2007, while staying with her parents in Praia De Luz, Portugal.
As is the case with social media, it did not take long for these images to go viral on the internet, with users on twitter sharing the images and commenting “Definitely looks like her! Unreal how much!” and another twitter user adding “Please don’t tell me this is Madeline McCann, she has the same mark on her left eye.”
The image was even retweeted to the Met Police, who are currently involved in a six million pound search for missing Madeline.
However, the excitement of possibly finding Madeline, who has now been missing for seven years, was unfortunately quelled by sources close to the McCann family. They commented that, despite some similarities, the apparent flaw in the eye of the girl highlighted by ITV4 viewers was in her left eye, whereas Madeline’s defect was in her right eye.
Despite the fact that the girl shown in the Turin crowd was not Madeline McCann, a friend of the family stated how encouraging it was that people were still looking for Madeline and how it will “Give the family great strength.”
Madeline’s parents have still not given up the search, believing that their daughter is still alive and new searches near the place where she disappeared are due to begin again within a week.