World Cup stadium in ruin already
THE World Cup in Russia seemingly went off without a hitch - bar the odd VAR call that left fans from some countries scratching their heads - but maybe not everything was as sound as it appeared on the surface.
The area surrounding a stadium used in football's showpiece event has been damaged by heavy rain that has washed away paths and embankments, leaving large craters, while crumbling walkways near another arena has also been blamed on poor workmanship.
Volgograd Arena copped the brunt of the treacherous weather conditions, leaving the site far from the appealing destination it was during the month-long tournament that ended in France's 4-2 win over Croatia in the final on Monday morning (AEST).
Built on the banks of the Volga River, the stadium held four World Cup games and cost a reported $370 million to build.
But some of that money looked like it had been thrown down the drain - literally - after the rain hit Russia.
According to reports, the power was cut off at Volgograd Stadium after water pipes and sewerage systems broke.
Cars even had to deal with roads that were covered by sand after the heavy rain.
A walkway in Nizhny Novgorod that was built specifically for fans to get to the World Cup venue in the city was also washed away in the rains. Reports from Russian media claimed local residents were blaming the issues on shoddy workmanship.
Despite these setbacks, Russian President Vladimir Putin says the country can be "proud" of its hosting of the football World Cup, judging it a success "in every respect" after Sunday's final.
"We can surely be proud of how we organised this tournament," Putin said in televised comments after France's victory against Croatia. "We have made this grand event a success in every respect.
"We have done it for our supporters, for Russians who are passionate about sport and for all those who love sport across the world."
Putin thanked the foreign fans who came to Russia for the tournament. Before it started a month ago, there had been concerns due to the memory of violence between Russian and English fans during the Euro 2016 tournament in France.
However, fans at this World Cup "showed that sport and football can manage not to divide people and not lead to fights and disputes, but unite people on the basis of common values", Putin said.
"People tried to scare us by saying the English would come and commit hooliganism … But everyone behaved in a most exemplary manner."
Despite high diplomatic tension between Moscow and the West, world football officials and personalities as well as world leaders have lined up to praise Russia's hosting of the tournament.
Russian leaders revelled in Monday's dramatic match after French players lifted the trophy.
The game was watched by Putin, French President Emmanuel Macron and Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic.
Putin said he had congratulated both leaders.
"A score of 4-2 in a final - I can't remember seeing a score like that and few people could," Putin said. "Both teams were magnificent … I am sure everyone liked the way they played, and so did I."
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev wrote on Instagram: "A marvellous final! France are champions. Russia has organised the best World Cup."