Former Premier League referee Mark Clattenburg has told Sky Sports his comments about having a "gameplan" in Tottenham's infamous 2-2 draw at Chelsea in 2016 have been "taken out of context."
Clattenburg told NBC's Men In Blazers podcast he had allowed Spurs to "self-destruct" and did not "play by the book" so he would not be blamed for them missing out on the title.
He booked nine Spurs players -- a Premier League record -- in the match, dubbed "The Battle of the Bridge," but now claims he could have sent off three as Spurs squandered a 2-0 half-time lead in a draw that confirmed Leicester as champions.
Clattenburg has faced criticism since the comments but said he had no regrets.
"Many referees decide they don't want to be the centre of attention, but if I'd have sent off three Tottenham players, the whole world would have blamed Mark Clattenburg for costing Tottenham the title," he said.
"That's the balance that top-level officials have to try and achieve -- what's right for the game and the laws -- and that's what a lot of people don't understand.
"I can understand, after the abuse I've had today, why people don't want to become referees. I've taken abuse for 13 years.
"When you're a Premier League referee, you're not going to keep everybody happy -- you're going to upset some teams."
Clattenburg said "referees haven't been allowed to speak for years" and that he wanted "to try and educate and for people to understand."
He added: "Yes there's words that have been taken out of context, and I could have used different words in some places.
"But I don't regret what I did in that match. I thoroughly enjoyed the match. I came off the pitch knowing that I hadn't influenced the result, and that was the most important thing.
"I never pre-judge players. If people listened to the full podcast, which lasted 20 to 30 minutes, I would have answered that question. I treat every player exactly the same."
Former referee Keith Hackett, previously Clattenburg's boss as general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Board, told the Telegraph the comments were not reflective of how officials -- including Clattenburg himself -- approached matches.
"I think it is a nonsense," he said. "It is disappointing to hear him say that he avoided giving a red card for his own self-preservation.
"When I saw the comments, I thought: 'What's going on?' and so have other referees I have spoken to. He is one of the top referees, and it is not something I have ever seen in him.
"I expect referees to be prepared and focused -- that would mean knowing the teams, the environment, the possible tactics and potential adjustments to help perform at your best but, once you cross the white line, you have a blank canvas in terms of the decisions.
"You try to build your authority and trust as the game progresses. We encourage tempo management and often talk about the need to slow things down.
"You do not want there to be a confrontation, but the referee is working to a code and that is the laws of the game.
"If there is a cautionable offence or a red card, you have to apply the laws of the game. That is your job. There is no ducking the issue."