Paul Elliott told The Footballers' Football Show that "no stone must be left unturned" in the investigation of the Mark Clattenburg affair.
Clattenburg allegedly made 'inappropriate' remarks towards Chelsea midfielder Jon-Obi Mikel, possibly of a racist nature, during the Blues' Premier League game with Manchester United last Sunday.
And while former Stamford Bridge defender Elliott heaped praise on English match officials, he says the allegations of wrongdoing by Clattenburg must be taken extremely seriously.
"We have to be careful what we say because, in my view, our referees are the best in the world," said Elliott, who also played for Charlton, Luton and Celtic. "They make errors of judgement - what referee doesn't? - but they are honest errors.
"I wouldn't like to think that any referee, who you see as the pillars of authority on the field of play (would use racist language), but we have to let the process ride out.
"The good thing is that two investigations - the Football Association's and the police's - are running parallel (unlike with the John Terry situation) and they can leave no stone unturned because the ramifications for our game are very serious.
"Chelsea have the same right as every other team (to report possible wrongdoing), though, and if one of their players gets abused whether that's by another player, a steward or a reporter, they have a care of duty to their players to investigate it."
Notts County manager Keith Curle says he has interacted with Clattenburg on the touchline while he was assistant manager to Neil Warnock at QPR and says it would be out of character for the referee to use the language he has been accused of.
Meanwhile, former Chelsea number two Ray Wilkins believes the Blues' Brazilian midfielder Ramires, who reportedly heard Clattenburg direct a slur towards Mikel, may have had an issue with the language barrier.
Curle said: "I've been in Mark's company on the side of the pitch when Neil (Warnock) has been remonstrating with him, and he has always come across as very measured and stable person and someone I don't think would use racial language - but I wasn't there and I don't know the context.
"But you have to be clear and definite with exactly what has gone on as it has been interpreted into different languages and then it's come back and you hear: 'This is what has been said'. We need to be clear what HAS been said."
Wilkins added: "In my experience of being with Ramires his English is extremely limited so it is difficult to know so whether he has understood what exactly has been said."