President of the German Soccer Federation (DFL) Reinhard Rauball (right) and DFL CEO Christian Seifert. Photo: REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

BERLIN - German football league chief Christian Seifert said on Tuesday the gap between rich and poor must grow to help Bundesliga clubs in Europe.

"From now on the Bundesliga's ambition must be to remain competitive with the best leagues in the world," said Seifert.

"The Bundesliga can only keep this promise if, over the long term, we have an elite made up of several clubs capable of holding their own in Europe."

And in order to compete with the best in Europe, Seifert believes clubs must "accept to a certain degree market rules", a veiled criticism at those who want a fairer distribution of television rights.

German teams have struggled in Europe over the last couple of seasons and giants Bayern Munich were the only ones in the current campaign to reach the Champions League knock-out stages, albeit by finishing second in their group to big-spending Paris Saint-Germain.

Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig both finished third in their groups and dropped into the Europa League, where three other teams failed to get out of that competition's pool stages.

Last year no German side reached a European semi-final for the first time since the 2004/05 season.

"We need giants and we should be proud (of them)," Seifert told a meeting of Bundesliga clubs in Frankfurt.

"It is only if the quality at the top of the Bundesliga is highlighted that everyone will benefit: all the Bundesliga, the second division and the amateur base."

Seifert warned that the failure to address the slump of German clubs would see the country "fall away" from the English Premier League, Spain's La Liga and the Italian Serie A.

And that would have "consequences for the whole of German football", he added.

Even so, Seifert did not suggest a change to the rule preventing any one individual from owning more than half of a German football club.

"No-one wants a completely open market where investors can and do whatever they want and take advantage. Football is not a game of Monopoly."

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