The legendary former Italy international claims that the AC Milan forward can become a figurehead in the battle against "disgusting" discrimination in the country.
Italy legend Gigi Riva believes that AC Milan's Mario Balotelli is potentially "the best cure for racism" in the country.
The striker returned to Italy in January from Manchester City, and has scored seven goals in six games in Serie A since his arrival.
The Azzurri's all-time leading goalscorer is fond of the idea that Balotelli is his spiritual heir, and thinks that the Rossoneri forward can be the person to turn the tide against racism.
"I'd like Balotelli to be my spiritual heir, sure," the 68-year-old told Corriere dello Sport. "He is strong, has great moral qualities, plus having a black guy as a symbol of Italy would be the best cure for racism that we could find.
"I think of Balotelli as a symbol of Italy's nationality and therefore he is very important. He can become a point of reference in order to eradicate the disgusting thing that is racism.
Kevin-Prince Boateng made a stand against racist chanting in a Milan friendly against Pro Patria where he staged a walk off in a symbolic move that has brought the discussion to the fore in Italian football.
"The scenes at Busto Arsizio with Boateng were painful for him and for us," said Riva. "It was a great shame that it had to happen."
Balotelli is enjoying a fine run of form since returning to Italy for both club and country and Riva, formerly of Cagliari, believes the forward is now settled and it is resulting in better performances on the pitch.
"On a technical level, his game is simple. But he is a force of nature with a physical electricity and sprinting muscles - a classic physicality," added Riva.