Roberta Metsola on Thursday said she turned down an invitation by Qatar to attend a world cup game.

The EP president has vowed to introduce a wide-ranging reform package after the parliament was rocked by a corruption scandal linked to World Cup hosts Qatar.

Asked if she had ever received any offers from Qatar, Metsola said she had turned down an invitation to attend the World Cup and dismissed a request by the Qataris to address the European Parliament.

Metsola said she refused the invitation because she has “concerns” about Qatar. The world cup host nation has been widely criticised for its human rights track record.

EP vice-president Eva Kaili was removed from her post this week after being arrested by Belgian police in connection with the Qatar probe.

Kaili has protested her innocence, with her lawyer claiming that all contacts with Qatar were carried out under Metsola’s instructions.

She was arrested last week during a series of raids on the homes and offices of several MEPs and their assistants or associates carried out by Belgian graft investigators.

Metsola vowed the EP will probe whether any of its legislative processes may have been subjected to undue pressure or influence.

Belgian prosecutors said €600,000 were found at the home of one suspect, €150,000 at the flat of an MEP and several hundred thousand euros in a suitcase in a hotel room. 

Some of these "bags of cash" were found in Kaili's home, a judicial source said, leading a judge to conclude that, as she had apparently been caught red-handed her parliamentary immunity would not apply.

A Belgian judicial source told AFP that investigators believe that figures representing the Gulf monarchy Qatar had been paying off European politicians to burnish the country's image.

Qatar is a key energy supplier to Europe. But it has also been criticised for the alleged mistreatment of migrant workers, most notoriously those who built the World Cup stadiums. 

Kaili visited Qatar just before the competition and called it a "front-runner in labour rights". She has also defended Qatar's quest to win EU visa waivers for its citizens.

Qatar has denied any involvement in European corruption. "Any claims of misconduct by the State of Qatar are gravely misinformed," an official told AFP.

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