Referee Mark Clattenburg tonight spoke of the "truly frightening" fear that his career could have been wrecked by an unjust accusation that he had racially abused a Chelsea player.
The match official also implicitly criticised Chelsea for going public with the complaint before the Football Association had even launched a formal investigation.
Clattenburg, 37, found out today he will face no action from the FA over a complaint by Chelsea that he said "shut up you monkey" to their midfielder John Obi Mikel last month.
The FA decided there was "no case to answer" and Chelsea have accepted the decision, but the Blues issued no apology and pointed out that the FA accepted the complaint by Mikel's team-mate Ramires, though erroneous, was "made in good faith".
Clattenburg spoke of his relief and said the last few weeks, during which he has taken no part in refereeing matches, had been "the most stressful of his life".
He said: "To know you were innocent of something but that there was the opportunity for it to wreck your career was truly frightening.
"Racism has no place in football and this experience should not discourage those to speak out if they genuinely believe they are a victim of abuse.
"However, there are processes that should be adhered to in order that any investigation can be carried out in a manner that is fair for all parties involved.
"I know first-hand the ramifications of allegations of this nature being placed into the public domain ahead of a formal process and investigation. I hope no referee has to go through this in the future.
"I am looking forward to putting this behind me and concentrating on refereeing in the Premier League and other competitions."
Clattenburg also paid tribute to the support from his colleagues and family and the referees' trade union Prospect, who have called for Chelsea to apologise and compensate the official.
He added: "The messages of encouragement from those inside and outside of the game have helped me through the most stressful time of my professional life."
Mikel was himself charged by the FA today for using threatening words or behaviour - an alleged breach of FA Rule E3 - after going into the referees' changing room after the match in question, Chelsea's 3-2 defeat by Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on October 28.
Chelsea insisted that they had a duty to report the claim against Clattenburg, but that Mikel would not deny the charge against him.
A club statement read: "The FA states Chelsea took the correct action following the Manchester United match and encourages all players who believe they have been either subject, or witness to discriminatory abuse, to report the matter immediately to the match officials on the day, and in turn to the FA.
"The club also notes the charge brought against John Mikel Obi. While the player does not deny the charge, he will request a personal hearing to explain the mitigating circumstances.
"With regards to the Mark Clattenburg decision, the club accepts the case is now concluded and notes the FA states the allegation was made in good faith."