IT WILL take three to five years to see the economic benefits of the World Cup, a Human Sciences Research Council academic said yesterday.
It was however too early to tell how great these benefits would be, Udesh Pillay, head of research on service delivery at the HSRC, said.
But he added that the economic benefits had been overstated.
"When compared with the economic benefits the government projected three to four years ago, figures have definitely been overstated," he said.
But Pillay, who has edited a book about the legacy of the 2010 Fifa World Cup, said the tournament's legacy in social terms provided a very good foundation for SA to address its development challenges as a nation "in a more rather than less unified way".
South Africa had entered the World Cup as a divided and fractured nation, evident in service delivery protests, high unemployment and crime.
"The Fifa World Cup was a rallying point for us to come together and be proud."
But Pillay warned that politicians should make sure this unique moment in the country's history was not lost due to political squabbling and ideological differences.
He noted that President Jacob Zuma had said he would use the tournament to accelerate service delivery.
"There is a feel-good factor in the country now ... there is pride, nation building and that gives SA a good basis to address challenges like service delivery.
"There is a goodwill factor here, and we must use this as a springboard when it comes to service delivery - no momentum must be lost."
Pillay said he had failed to understand press reports that equated the end of the World Cup with an outbreak of xenophobia.
But he said a lack of service delivery could easily result in xenophobic attacks if foreigners coexisted with locals and had access to livelihoods locals did not have.
Foreigners might have been "more entrepreneurial." - Sapa