Yesterday the Paddy Power twitter account posted this image, to a furious reaction.
Hi-res versions of the image had been doing the rounds on Reddit.
Speculation began to mount. Gizmodo spotted this deleted tweet.
Paddy Power says the picture is all part of an elaborate hoax. The company has released a statement (along with an explanation of how they pulled it off) which reads:
"Despite massive online speculation and a Twitter storm yesterday that had bookmaker Paddy Power trending for felling a chunk of Amazon rainforest to spell the words 'C’Mon on England', the bookie has confirmed today that the pictures were all part of an online hoax.
The bookmaker commissioned a studio to painstakingly create the pictures using the latest technology and a 3D model down to the finest detail – even including fake ‘glare’ layered onto the shot as if it had been taken from inside a helicopter. The images were then ‘leaked’ to various social media sources which were then shared and soon had the Twitter-sphere up in arms for a full 24 hours, including Lord of the Rings actor Dominic Monaghan who branded it 'irresponsible' and called the bookie brainless w******'.
Paddy Power’s Twitter feed even went as far as to say 'We haven’t cut down that much!' – a tweet that was then deleted to make it look like the bookie’s social media team had been caught on the hop.
The hoax was crafted by Paddy Power, with the help of some online partners like Sabotage Times, to turn up the heat during the weekend prior to the World Cup and highlight an important issue relevant to the host country – namely that an area the size of 122 football pitches is chopped down every 90 minutes according to Greenpeace.
A Paddy Power spokesperson said: 'We knew we’d drop off a fair few Christmas card lists yesterday, but we couldn’t resist a bit of fake twitter mischief to highlight an important issue as our World Cup warm-up. At least it gave people something to get animated about during last night’s England-Honduras bore fest.'