By TERRY MADDAFORD
The Oceania Football Confederation gravy train is about to lurch to a grinding halt for executive members who have lapped it up in luxury for years.
Recently elected president Reynald Temarii has said "no more" as he moves to change the way the OFC administers the game for their 11 - soon to be 12 with New Caledonia's impending membership - nations.
Temarii, 36, appointed the Minister of Youth and Sport in Tahiti as a 31-year-old - he also holds the Social Integration of Young People portfolio in the Tahitian Government - is determined to make changes.
"I will change the management of the OFC," he said from Papeete this week. "That has already started with the changes we are making to our statutes. It has been too political in the past.
"I want to define a real plan to develop soccer and push politics aside."
From the outset, the OFC was a political hot potato, with an "us" (the island nations) and "them" (Australia and New Zealand) stand-off.
As president, Charlie Dempsey was often caught in the middle in trying to appease the smaller countries while having to recognise the vital role played by Australia and New Zealand.
For many of the executive members a seat on the executive was an all-powerful position. The allowances they received, the business class air travel and top-class accommodation they enjoyed gave them a status most in their countries could only ever dream of.
In the year ended December 2001, the OFC balance sheet showed more than $1.5 million was paid in wages and allowances. A further $767,000 was paid in "meeting costs". From an income of $9.1 million (of which more than $7 million came from Fifa), the OFC showed a surplus of just $374,000.
Temarii, the first non-Australian or New Zealand president, is determined to slash costs and channel more funding to on-field footballing projects.
"I will reduce the numbers attending our congresses by half," said Temarii, who is also president of the Tahiti Football Federation.
"In the past we have paid for two delegates from each country. It will now be just one.
"Each time we had a congress it cost $100,000."
Temarii, who played professionally for French club Nantes in 1987-88 - after playing for the JT club which won the 1987 Tahitian Championship and later for AS Venus and AS Pirae in later championship triumphs - also has plans to change the OFC legal system.
"In the past the legal committee was chaired by Dr Sahu Khan, from Fiji, but I feel this committee must be independent from the OFC executive. Perhaps we will find independent lawyers in New Zealand to sit on this committee."
In another far-reaching move - which will also slash costs - Temarii will cut the executive from 12 to eight members.
"We must have a strong executive. In the past there have been two blocks, with votes always going 6-5. Now we will have eight members who will support what I'm trying to achieve. We will still require a two-thirds majority.
"Today there are 10 countries who support my new plans. Only Tonga are against."
Temarii is keen to scrap World Cup/Confederations Cup qualifying tournaments in favour of home and away matches.
"For most players it means a long time away from work. Vanuatu players, as an example, have not played at home for three years. That is not helping promote soccer."
Temarii is determined the game in this part of the world should be the domain of "technicians" and coaches.
"In the past only the respective presidents have been involved in the decision-making processes. In future we want to appoint national coaches to our technical committee, with only the chairman coming for our executive."
New Zealand Soccer chief executive Bill MacGowan has welcomed Temarii's election and the refreshing changes he hopes to bring to the role.
"With his playing background he has clearly come into the job with football and the development of the game on his mind," said MacGowan. "We are fully supportive of him and his ideals. The changes of direction he is proposing are fantastic.
"Oceania has in the past been far too political. We want every possible dollar spent on football, rather than political arguments."
Temarii will be at the OFC offices in Auckland in July as part of his determination to streamline the OFC operation.
Asked when he proposes to have a new secretary-general in place, Temarii, who will make the appointment, said he hoped to do that by the end of the year.
"I have some ideas," he said. "But I can't tell you yet."
As a close friend of Fifa member and former French great Michel Platini, Temarii is keen to build a strong relationship with the European Confederation.
He has already shown himself to be a man on a mission. Anything he can do to rebuild the sometimes-waning interest in the sport in this part of the world will surely be welcomed.
And much needed.
* Age: 36. Born: Papeete, Tahiti.
* Lives: Mahina, Tahiti.
* Occupation: Tahiti's Minister of Youth and Sport (since June 1998).
* National Association: Member since 1997 re-elected president in July 2003.
* Playing career: Professional with Nantes, France (1987-88), captain of Tahiti, won gold medals at South Pacific Mini Games and South Pacific Games (1995).
* Fifa roles: On Technical and Development Committee and Fifa Goal Bureau.