The world’s attention will be fixed on South Africa this summer, as the country hosts the 2010 World Cup.

But South African citrus exporters also will be keeping an eye on the U.S., where they hope to once again cash in on their support of American youth soccer.

For the second year in a row, the Citrusdal, South Africa-based Western Cape Citrus Producers’ Forum will sponsor the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships, scheduled for July 20-25 in Overland Park, Kan.

Sponsoring U.S. youth soccer team has been a staple of the industry’s marketing and promotional activities for several years, said Joretha Geldenhuys, the producers’ forum’s chief executive officer.

“South African summer citrus is being identified more and more with youth soccer,” Geldenhuys said. “South African navels are the halftime snack of these players.”

And hosting the World Cup doesn’t hurt the forum’s efforts, she said.

“With all eyes on South Africa for the World Cup this year, there will additional focus on South African summer citrus,” she said.

Soccer isn’t all the forum has on its marketing agenda this summer, Geldenhuys said. The forum will introduce a recipe program featuring typical South African recipes that use citrus — everything from cocktails to appetizers and entrees to desserts.

Advertisements, point-of-sale materials and in-store tastings also will play key roles in this summer’s promotional plans, Geldenhuys said.

Aggressive support from the forum has made it easier for North American importers to move South African citrus, said Marc Solomon, president and chief executive officer of Montreal-based Fisher Capespan Inc.

“We’re working with our key customers on promotions, particularly tastings,” Solomon said. “We believe that once they try it, they’re going to come back to it.”